Baltimore students gathered for an exclusive screening of “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.” Photo courtesy of United Way of Central Maryland.

United Way of Central Maryland collaborated with Propel Center to gather students from all over the city of Baltimore for an exclusive screening of the new “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” movie and to announce the Young Men United, New Educational Equity Program.

The viewing, which took place at the historic Senator Theatre, brought out almost 1,000 young people from Coppin State University, Morgan State University, and local high schools.

“Pop culture has a powerful impact on how our young people view the world,” Baltimore City Public Schools CEO Sonja Brookins Santelises said in a statement. “The original Black Panther movie was important for our students because it illustrates how education, technological innovation, and leadership can enhance a community. The screening of the sequel is welcome because it offers a chance to build on that momentum.”

Propel Center, a global technology and learning hub for historical Black universities and colleges, selected Baltimore City for this event as part of their mission to provide HBCU students with methods to support “leadership development, entrepreneurial endeavors and community impact.”

“We are so excited to bring Baltimore City students together today to enjoy this moment, and to celebrate the announcement of United Way’s Young Men United program. The opportunity to experience a movie like this allows our students to see themselves as leaders, bold thinkers, warriors, and innovators. Whether behind the scenes, or right there on the big screen,” said Franklyn Baker, president and CEO of United Way of Central Maryland, in a statement. “Our vision for Young Men United is to break down barriers to education, opportunity, and earning power for young men of color so they can realize their dreams.”

Young Men United, an education equity and economic advancement initiative, began accepting applications from students last week and its first cohorts will be announced in December. The program will launch at Benjamin Franklin and Patterson high schools, both of which had students represented at the screening.

Young Men United will be executed in partnership with I AM MENtality, which was founded to provide youth mentoring and leadership development services. 

“We believe Black Panther: Wakanda Forever has the power to uplift and empower students of color,” said Dr. Cortney Harris, vice president of impact and engagement at Propel, in a statement. “We have chosen Baltimore as the site for our commitment to nurturing educational and workforce advancement. Establishing a partnership with United Way of Central Maryland, Baltimore City Public Schools and Morgan and Coppin State Universities propels our mission to transform HBCU students into civic-minded leaders capable of dismantling systemic injustice, while shaping the future through innovation and entrepreneurship.”

Latrice Hill is a Baltimore native and Morgan State University graduate who loves all the great things this city has to offer. She worked with WMAR 2-News as an Assignment Desk Editor before she joined...